Thursday, January 17, 2013

Quinoa: A tiny seed with a powerful punch!

I'm a brown rice fiend. I love the stuff so much and could find a way to fit it into my day without much effort.  As I've trekked along on this healthy journey, I'm discovering new and amazing foods to eat. One of those is quinoa (pronounced keen-wa). You've probably heard of it or maybe you've even tried it before.  Quinoa is actually a seed, not a grain like many think it is. It's high in magnesium, iron, protein and fiber and it's also gluten-free. Quinoa has all 9 essential amino acids making it a complete protein. It's also a complex carbohydrate which means you will be feeling fuller longer after eating it.  In simple terms, quinoa is ridiculously healthy and very good for you! Move over brown rice, there is a new face in town!

I'm going to share with you a super easy, no-fail way to prepare your quinoa and we'll even add a little spice to the recipe as well.  I've found that quinoa is really easy to spice up in all sorts of delicious ways and you can do it before you actually cook it! I included this recipe in my mason jar salads in last weeks prep, and all week long my belly has been so full after eating just a small amount mixed into my salad.  No animal protein needed, folks!  

This post was inspired by Kathy over at Healthy.Happy.Life. Her vegan blog inspired my mason jar salads and she has a lot of great info over there. Check it out!

What you'll need:
1 cup + 2 tablespoons of dry, unrinsed quinoa
1 2/3 cup water or broth

dry spice mix:  
(I'm sharing Kathy's but you can use cajun seasoning, Spike seasoning or any other combo of spices that you like)

sea salt (salt to taste!)
1 tsp chili powder
1 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp cayenne (I went up to 1 tsp because I like mine extra spice-ay!)
1 tsp coriander
1 tsp garlic powder

A very important Step 1:
You'll want to rinse your quinoa very well.  Quinoa has something called saponins covering the outer shell to protect from pesksy predators.  Us humans don't want this bitter taste either, so be sure to rinse VERY well. Even if it says it is pre-rinsed, I suggest you give it a good soak before you cook it. If your quinoa sort of foams up while you are rinsing, you know you are getting rid of this natural detergent.  I like to use a fine mesh sieve to rinse mine, but you can also get a bowl of cold water, soak, drain, soak, drain until the water is clear and not dingy-looking.  

Step 2:
Bring 1 and 2/3 cups of water or broth to a boil in a small-medium saucepan (I just use my small, 1 quart saucepan

Mix your spices and then gently fold them into your rinsed quinoa.  

After the water is boiling, add your quinoa.  Bring both water and quinoa back to a boil, and then set your stove to low, cover with a lid, and set your kitchen timer to 12-15 minutes (I do the full 15). Now, walk away! Resist the urge to peek at it :)  

When the timer goes off, turn off the stove, keep the lid on and walk away again.  (I know, it's tough! :wink:)  After 5-10 minutes, take the lid off and fluff your quinoa with a fork.  Boom! Perfectly fluffy ready-to-eat quinoa.  

This method totally changed my life because it always seemed as if the quinoa I was making was super watery.  Kathy mentions the ratio of quinoa to water should be about 1 part quinoa to 1 1/2 parts liquid, instead of the 2 cups of liquid suggested on most quinoa packages.  1 cup of dry quinoa yields about 3 cups of cooked.  

If you can't get it right try these troubleshooting techniques:
*Leave the lid on longer after cooking.
*Cook for a few more minutes.
*Add less water.
*Rinse your quinoa more.
*Keep trying!

Serve it as is or if you're like me, add in some nuts, beans, rice vinegar, liquid aminos, EVOO, veggies...whatever you like! You can also serve it cold as I did in my mason jar salads (Just be sure to let it chill completely before adding it to the jars).  


Do you like quinoa or have a favorite recipe? Share in the comments section!

1 comment:

Kristi said...

I made this one a few weeks ago and it was so good, and colorful!